Monday, September 25, 2006
The wild rose is the floral symbol of Alberta, my home province, and grows everywhere. The North Saskatchewan River and several smaller creeks cut right through Edmonton with big tracts of mostly undisturbed bush alongside them, so the rosebushes with their berries are pretty easy to find even in the city. I picked these along Whitemud Creek in the south. Except for their beauty, they are not as fun to pick as other berries - they don't grow in nice clumps like saskatoons, and the plants are always pricking you without being as yummy as their relatives the wild raspberries. (Some people enjoy these vitamin-C packed fruits fresh off the bush, but I don't care for the mouthful of seeds and fibres inside.)
The best thing to do with these is to preserve them by drying until wrinkly for making tea. Spread rosehips in a single layer on a pan in a very low oven, even as low as 100 degrees F, and dry slowly. This is one of the best smells you can have in the kitchen. They can get a little toasty but you don't want to overdo it and brown them or the tea will be bitter. To make rosehip tea, put a couple of handfuls of dried rosehips in a 1.5 l saucepan mostly full of water and bring to a rolling boil for several minutes - you want to really cook them, not just infuse them. Strain into a teapot or cups and serve. You can continue adding water and making tea with the same berries for a couple of days. I loved this with honey when I was little and still love it.
Domestic rosebushes can be harvested like this as well, though the fruit is bigger and you should avoid plants that have been sprayed. Just resist the urge to dead head the roses and they will produce the fruit.